The bull trap has been around for pretty much as long as people have been trading in and manipulating the price action of financial markets. Bull traps often catch unwary forex traders by surprise when they act on a false buy signal in an uptrend that then causes them to wind up taking a loss when the fake rally eventually fizzles out.
In this article, Benzinga explains the nature of the bull trap, its causes and how to identify and avoid them when trading forex. Knowledge of bull traps could improve your overall forex trading results, so keep reading for more information on bull traps in forex trading.
What is a Bull Trap?
As the name implies, the bull trap essentially consists of an upward-trending market that looks like it should continue higher, but the bullish move instead fails and the market moves lower.
Bull traps are notoriously created by market manipulators to trick other market participants into buying during a false breakout that looks like a bull market, thereby trapping them with positions on the long side.
The false upside breakout seen in bull traps generally induces less market-savvy traders to position themselves on the long side with a price target that the market never attains. As the market typically retraces its initial gains and then some during a bull trap, they eventually end up on the wrong side of market price movement (or exchange rate movement in forex trading).
The failure of the upside breakout of a resistance level, trendline or chart pattern eventually becomes apparent when market momentum wanes as the manipulator sells to take their profits. The ensuing selloff intensifies as traders on the wrong side of the market rapidly liquidate their positions. This tends to drive the market even lower than the level where the manipulation began, making a bull trap a bearish signal.
How to Identify a Bull Trap
Accurately identifying a bull trap in the forex market typically requires a combination of technical, fundamental and sentiment analysis. You can also use exchange rate charts to spot potential bull traps. The useful market analysis methods that can help you identify a bull trap in the forex market include:
Technical analysis: A key method for identifying bull traps is to use technical analysis tools like trend lines, support and resistance levels, moving averages and oscillators to analyze the exchange rate movements of a currency pair you think has shown a bullish signal. A break in a key support level, or a bearish divergence in a momentum oscillator like the relative strength index, can indicate a potential bull trap you will want to avoid. Charts can also be used to spot bull traps in the forex market. For example, you can review candlestick charts to look for patterns that suggest a downside reversal in the underlying trend. A particular candlestick pattern known as a shooting star often indicates that a bearish reversal is imminent, as do bearish engulfing patterns and doji candles.
Fundamental analysis: Another useful method that can help you avoid trading on bear traps involves using fundamental analysis to analyze the underlying economic and geopolitical factors that could have influenced the market sentiment to result in a bullish breakout. If the market sentiment does not seem that bullish based on positive news, then forex traders need to be cautious about the upside breakout and look for potential negative factors that could reverse the trend lower.
Volume analysis: You can use trade volume analysis to identify when a forex market move is valid. True bullish breakouts are generally supported by strong trading volume that indicates a genuine upward trend has commenced. In contrast, bull traps are usually not accompanied by a significant increase in trading volume, so a failure to see such an increase indicates a potential downside reversal could occur instead of a rally.
Sentiment analysis: Another method you can use to identify a bull trap is to analyze market sentiment using sentiment indicators or news sentiment analysis. If the market sentiment is overly optimistic and most traders have positioned themselves in the same direction, then traders need to be cautious because this could indicate a potential bull trap.
Keep in mind that remaining vigilant while trading currencies is crucial to avoid falling into a bull trap. You especially need to stay aware of potential market-moving events and news that could influence forex market sentiment and spark a reversal. Also, remember to set appropriate stop-loss orders to limit your losses in case the market moves against your position.
How to Avoid a Bull Trap
Because of the prevalence of bull traps in the forex market, you will generally want to include strategies for avoiding them in your trading plan. Here are some tips and tricks forex traders can use to avoid falling prey to bull traps:
Use a combination of analysis methods: Traders should generally use a combination of technical, fundamental and sentiment analysis to identify potential bull traps. This helps to avoid relying on one analysis method and increases the accuracy of identifying real bullish moves and potential trend reversals before they occur.
Stay aware of market-moving events: Traders should stay up to date on important news events that can shift the forex market sharply like economic releases, central bank meetings and geopolitical developments. Such news can impact forex market sentiment and trigger bull traps.
Use appropriate risk and money management: Traders should use appropriate risk-management strategies like setting stop-loss orders, taking profits at regular intervals and avoiding over-leveraging their positions as well as using sensible position-sizing techniques. Taking such steps can help minimize losses and protect trading capital.
Avoid chasing a new trend: Traders should avoid chasing an unconfirmed trend by buying at the peak of fresh bullish momentum. Instead, they can wait for a pullback in the currency pairs exchange rate before entering a long position.
Avoid trading during periods of low liquidity: Traders should avoid periods of low market liquidity because manipulators can use this to their advantage. Low liquidity can also increase the volatility of the forex market and lead to unpredictable exchange rate movements that can trigger bull traps.
Use market action analysis: Analyze the way that exchange rates move on candlestick charts to identify potential bull traps. For example, you can look for bearish candlestick patterns like shooting stars, bearish engulfing patterns and doji candles to signal a market entering a bull trap that may be about to reverse direction.
Traders can typically avoid bull traps by remaining vigilant to the risk of trading on them and using a combination of analysis methods to identify them. They can also employ appropriate risk- and money-management strategies and best trading practices to increase their chances of success and minimize their losses just in case a bull trap occurs that catches them long and wrong.
Bull Trap Takeaways
Because bull traps are a common occurrence in the forex market, currency traders must remain aware of the signs and signals of market manipulation to avoid falling prey to them and losing their hard-earned money. Forex traders with open positions and those considering taking a position also need to stay well-informed and regularly updated on market-moving events to minimize the risk of losing money because of bull trap fakeouts.
Remember that bull traps are often caused by market manipulators who deliberately create a false bullish sentiment in the forex market. This can cause unwary currency traders to buy at the peak of an invalid uptrend and suffer significant losses as a result. You can typically increase your chances of success and minimize your losses as a trader by avoiding falling into bull traps.
In addition, those looking to avoid bear traps should consider using a combination of analysis methods and appropriate risk- and money-management strategies as well as best practices like avoiding chasing the trend on a suspicious breakout and trading during low liquidity periods when the market manipulation that causes bull traps is easier and more likely.
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